4. Keisha Knight Pulliam in Madea Goes to Jail
“Rudy” is still finding her footing as an adult actress. After spending the bulk of her formative years on one of the most iconic black sitcoms in TV history, she’s likely to struggle through a lot of roles before she finds her “grown woman voice.” Though she’s been okay playing a wife and mother opposite Lance Gross in the Tyler Perry sitcom, House of Payne, she was absolutely out of her depths as a prostitute and drug addict in Madea Goes to Jail.
5. Halle Berry in X-Men and Perfect Stranger
Much has been said about how woefully miscast Halle Berry was as Ororo Munroe/Storm in X-Men, so I won’t belabor the point. (We do all know that role was made for N’Bushe Wright and should’ve been hers, right?) But let’s talk instead about how Halle Berry was supposed to be this high-powered political investigative reporter type in the thriller Perfect Stranger and all she did was yell unconvincingly, wear tight skimpy outfits, and use push-up bras, skimpy outfits, and heavy petting to manipulate men. Not only couldn’t I believe that she was a reporter (an apple jack hat and a laptop weren’t enough to sell it), but I also didn’t believe she could pull off (spoiler alert) not one but two murders.
6. Diana Ross in The Wiz
The Wiz is a cult classic, and at this point, it’s hard to imagine replacing anyone in it with anyone else. But Dorothy’s supposed to be pretty young. And Diana Ross was about 33 when she played her. Though she did a great job and casting her made sense, since she was a pop legend by then, it’s worth wondering what foundering ingenue could’ve gotten her big break in that role, had Ross played Glenda or just served as a producer (because unlike Diana, Lena was perfectly cast as Glenda, and we should probably leave that alone) instead.
7. Queen Latifah in Just Wright
Let’s just be real Just Wright wasn’t gonna be a good movie, regardless of who starred in Latifah’s role. But it would’ve been more comfortable to watch if both she and Common were replaced by someone else. As Leslie Wright, Queen Latifah pulled off the platonic and athletic parts of the role, but her lack of chemistry with a creepy-eyed Common was super-distracting.
8. Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Undercovers
Mbatha-Raw is breathtaking and I’ve heard good things about her acting. Unfortunately, her part in the failed NBC action drama, Undercovers, is the only role I’ve had an opportunity to see her play. And it was not a good introduction to her. This wasn’t all her fault; for a show about spies, it was as boring as drying paint. But even so, I didn’t buy her as the ass-kicking, name-taking secret agent the script kept insisting she was. You don’t have to have the physical build to pull that off, but in the absence of actual muscle, your face and line delivery better be serving up “Manolo-rockin’-mercenary.” She was giving us a more… mild-mannered humanitarian/socialite kind of vibe. It didn’t work.
Who would you add (or take off of) the list? Do you think Mary J. will be able to pull off Nina Simone or Betty Shabazz?